Date: May 15th, 2019
About Jonathan Siegrist
Jonathan Siegrist (J-Star) is a 33-year-old professional rock climber based out of Las Vegas, NV. Since he started climbing as a kid, he’s become one of the world’s most prolific sport climbers. To date, he’s climbed two 15b’s, nine 15a’s, thirty-two 9a’s, and hundreds of other 5.14’s. He’s currently ranked as the #3 sport climber in the world on 8a.nu.
He’s bouldered up to V14, sent sketchy PG-13 and R-rated trad climbs, and has sent 5.14 trad big walls. He’s also bolted a lot of routes of all grades in Colorado, Idaho, and beyond.
Besides all that, he’s one of my best friends, and he’s one of the most motivated, positive people I’ve ever met. Aside from being an incredible climber, his genuine gratitude for life and hunger for adventure are inspirational to me. He’s also really fun to hang out with.
I spent the past month in Spain with Jonathan while he sieged La Planta de Shiva, a 5.15b that caught his eye due to its endurance-y nature and its relative lack of kneebars. He trained very well for this route and it paid off with a quick ascent after about 2.5 weeks of being there. This interview is about his training and his process on the route, but we also did something a little different this time: Jonathan interviewed me as well during our talk.
The reason for this is that while he and everyone else on our trip sent, I did not send my own project. So this dual interview was all about the contrast between a super prolific professional climber and a mere mortal such as myself, and the differences between our experiences in Spain. It’s about the difference between going on a trip and sending and going on a trip and failing to send, and all the mental battles and celebrations that go along with those things. It’ll offer you some insight into both of our lives, as well as a bit of comic relief.
Jonathan Siegrist Interview Details
In this interview with Jonathan Siegrist, we talk about his simple (but not easy) training methods to prepare for this trip, and about his experience on the route. It was quite a fight to get to the top of Planta de Shiva, so we dive into that battle a bit. We also talk about my own experience of failing to send my project in Spain, how fear kept me from trying it more, and what I learned from my route. Jonathan wrote out some questions for both of us to ask each other, and here they are:
- Did you have any expectations for this trip? Anything at all…
- How did you prepare for this trip, mentally/physically
- What are some unexpected things that came up during this trip?
- How do you choose a project or decide how to spend your time on a trip like this?
- In retrospect, how would you have prepared differently, if you feel you would have?
- How did you like the climbing here?
- What do you think of the vibes at the cliff? Is it different than US?
- What were your favorite aspects of the trip outside of climbing?
Jonathan Siegrist Links
- Jonathan on Instagram @jonathansiegrist
- Jonathan’s website: www.jstarinorbit.com
- My 1st Podcast Interview with Jonathan
- My 2nd Podcast Interview with Jonathan
- Videos of him climbing (lots of them)
Training Programs for You
- Check out our Route Climbing Training Program for route climbers of all abilities.
- Our other training programs: Training Programs Page.
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Photo of Jonathan on la Planta de Shiva 5.15b by @javipec
Neely Quinn: Welcome to the TrainingBeta podcast where I talk with climbers and trainers about how we can get a little better at our favorite sport. I’m your host, Neely Quinn, and I want to remind you that the TrainingBeta podcast is an offshoot of the website trainingbeta.com which I created to have a space that’s completely dedicated to training for climbing.
Over there you’ll find training programs, blog posts that are done by trainers and climbers in our community, we have training videos, and I do nutrition consulting with people, specifically climbers, to optimize your diet to help you climb and recover better, and Matt Pincus does online training with climbers all over the world and he will create individualized programs for people who are trying to reach a climbing goal.
You can find all of that at trainingbeta.com and you can find us on social media @trainingbeta and then we also have a training forum on Facebook. It’s a community page and you can find that at trainingbeta.com/community.
So as you may know, I was in Spain for about a month. We went from April 9 to May 9 and so we’ve been home for almost a week and the jet lag is just starting to wear off. We’re starting to get back to normal life and we are no longer on Spain time which was: go to sleep at 1:00 or 2:00AM, get up at 10:30, start climbing at 1:00 or 2:00. It was really relaxing and super fun and on our rest days we got to see very beautiful cities like Granada and Sevilla. It was an amazing trip.
The reason that we went is because our good friend, Jonathan Siegrist, asked us to come and on a whim we were like, ‘Sure! We’ll leave the country.’ We weren’t planning on it but it sounded like a really cool trip. He wanted to try this route called Planta de Shiva which is a 15b or 9b that only a few other people have done. It was a super attractive route to him and I was really interested in watching him go through his process. Having talked to him about his training for it and then actually seeing him go through that mental and physical process of projecting something, I haven’t seen him do that too many times.
It was a really exciting opportunity for us to climb on amazing tufa limestone in Spain with awesome Spanish climbers who are really strong themselves and also to just watch this pro climber go through this process. We went. Seth sent his first 14a since having shoulder surgeries. Our friend Dusty, who we were living with in Spain, also sent his second and third 14a ever and then Dusty’s wife sent her project and Jonathan sent Planta, which was amazing. I actually got to watch him do it and it was one of the most exciting feats in climbing I’ve ever seen. I’ve never seen anybody try that hard for so long, even though I knew he was terminally pumped, red-lining the whole time. It was extremely awe-inspiring, to be honest. There are few people I think who can make themselves try that hard for that long and who have the fitness to do it.
In this episode we’re going to talk about Jonathan’s send, how he prepared for it, how he trained, what his process is like, but we’re also going to contrast that with my experience because I was the only one of our group who didn’t send. I picked this 8a, this 13b, that I found out later was potentially 13c so it was very much at my limit or beyond. I’m not really sure at this point. I didn’t send and so it was a humbling experience for me, for sure, to be surrounded by people who were having success and I wasn’t. I struggled with fear and some other things.
This interview is actually a double interview. Jonathan interviewed me and I interviewed Jonathan. Basically, he came up with some questions and we both ask each other the same questions and basically just have a conversation about the contrast between our experiences because the whole month I was just blown away at how different we are as climbers and as people. He’s supremely confident. He’s just a boss. He climbs with no fear, he knows what he’s capable of doing, he is so experienced with projecting things at his limit that he knows the process so well. He’s just got it dialed. He knows what to do. Yeah, I have a lot of experience climbing outside but he’s just totally different so we talked about that a lot and drew some comparisons throughout this interview. I thought it was really interesting. Not everybody can relate with a person who is so prolifically successful as Jonathan and so supremely confident and just such a boss and I thought that it might be interesting for people to see the differences in experiences between me and Jonathan.
So that’s why I did it. I hope you enjoy it. Without further adieu, here is Jonathan Siegrist and me. I’ll talk to you on the other side. Enjoy.
Neely Quinn: Alright. Welcome back to the podcast, Jonathan.
Jonathan Siegrist: Hello.
Neely Quinn: Hello. Thanks for talking with me about this.
Jonathan Siegrist: Yeah, you’re welcome. I’m glad that I can talk to you about it. I think I told you if I did send then I would do an interview with you.
Neely Quinn: Yes, you definitely said that.
Jonathan Siegrist: [laughs] So this is actually exciting.
Neely Quinn: Yeah. First things first, congratulations on your send of La Planta de Shiva.
Jonathan Siegrist: Thanks. I’m very excited. It was a big goal for the first half of my year and I’m just incredibly relieved and excited and all of those things. It’s just such a fun trip with you guys here as well, too. It’s definitely going to be super memorable. It’s been awesome and I’m appreciative.
Neely Quinn: It’s been a super fun trip, like really fun, and that’s probably half of why I wanted to come here, just to hang out with you again.
Jonathan Siegrist: Good, cool. Likewise.
Neely Quinn: It was also really fun watching your process and so we’re going to talk about that in this interview. We’re going to change things up a little bit and you’re actually going to ask me questions about my process.
Just to explain, Jonathan wrote all of these questions out and I’m going to ask him the question first and then he’s going to ask me the same question about my experience here.
Anything you want to add?
Jonathan Siegrist: No, I just think it’s going to be cool. Neely and I have been here together now for almost a month. Today is actually Neely and Seth’s last day. I’ve got another week here. I just thought it would be cool to kind of chat a little bit with Neely about her experience, too, because we’ve both been here pretty much on the same exact program and yet we’re both different people and different climbers so we’ve had a different experience about it.
Neely Quinn: I think we’re almost opposite climbers.
Jonathan Siegrist: [laughs] I don’t know if that’s true.
Neely Quinn: It’s kind of like a juxtaposition because you succeeded, I failed, you climb with supreme confidence and style, and I struggle a little bit more. I don’t know if it’s going to help anybody listening to my side of things but it might just be a little comical. [laughs]
Okay, so just to set the scene we’re in a little town called Villanueva del Rosario which is in the region of Malaga in Spain, so the south of Spain. We’ve been here for a month and the first question that Jonathan wrote was: “Did you have any expectations for this trip? Anything at all?”
I think we know what your expectations were. Well, expectations and goals are different things so…
Jonathan Siegrist: Totally. I’ll start by saying I’ve spent a lot of time in Spain. Probably over the last five years I’ve spent cumulatively maybe 10 months or even a year but all of that time has been in Catalunya, which is an area that I’m really fond of and I’ve come to totally love and fall in love with everything – the culture, the people, the climbing, the places. I’ve explored it a lot and I feel like it’s cool because I can go to xyz cliff and I don’t even have to look at the Google maps anymore and stuff like that but I also knew there was a lot of climbing outside of Catalunya and I’ve been wanting to take a trip to Andalucia, which is the region that we’re in now, for quite some time.
I guess my expectations were – and this question could probably fill the entire hour but we don’t need to get into it too much – in many different ways, one obviously about the climbing. I’d heard that the climbing here was really high quality but I’d never been to this area so I had no idea exactly what to expect. I also had a certain understanding of what the area might be like just based on spending so much time in Catalunya, which is kind of in contrast to Andalucia as far as the place. It’s all Spain but people in Andalucia and Catalunya alike think really individually and they’re both autonomous regions. It was cool to come here and make some of my own opinions about it and I can say that I really loved being here and all the people here were incredible. I find more similarities than I find differences, to be honest, and that is that they both totally kick ass. I’m just happy to have spent some time here.
As far as climbing expectations go I did not expect to do the route, necessarily. I came here specifically with the goal of trying to climb Planta de Shiva and I prepared and I trained for the route for the last several months. I did so both by systematic training but also by climbing outside and just mentally preparing and trying to get as much information about the route as I could and things like this. That being said, when I left Shaina at the airport I was thinking I had a 50/50 chance. That’s without even knowing what the route was like or the climbing area was all about.
I guess what I’m trying to say is I didn’t at all expect to just try and go home. It wasn’t like I come on these trips and go, ‘Oh, I’ll do that in a day and what will I do after it?’ You know? I could easily go home empty-handed like I have many times before but I just wanted to do my best and try as hard as I could, I guess, and see what came of it.
Neely Quinn: That was something that I thought was really interesting watching you go through this process. Everyday you basically even said out loud, “No, I don’t expect to do this route. I don’t expect to do this route this trip or maybe even ever,” so it seemed like your expectations were so low that you didn’t have that much pressure on yourself.
Jonathan Siegrist: I started to feel more pressure after the first two weeks because I did do quite well on the route. I think I prepared perfectly for it and I also think the route suits me really well but I also could sense that it was really difficult and there are so many variables you can’t control, right? Weather is starting to become an issue because it’s warming up quite a bit since we first arrived. Skin. You know, sometimes when you do start to imagine that you’re going to do something that you really desire and you really want then it can become elusive because there’s too much pressure and all these types of things. I was definitely balancing all of that but it’s always really helpful for me to not think about a timeline.
Even two weeks into the trip, even though I had three weeks remaining, I was like, ‘Okay, when can I come back? Okay, I’m supposed to go to Asia in the fall but maybe I can cancel the plans and come back here instead. Or, when I come back next year maybe Shaina can come and maybe we’ll stay in a different village.’ I started looking on Airbnb or whatever because these are the kinds of things I need in my head. First of all, it’s practical because I had no idea whether or not I could actually send. Secondly, it’s just important because I want to be free of pressure. I don’t want to feel like I’ve got two weeks left in my trip and that’s the only opportunity I’ll ever have in my life to do this route, you know?
Neely Quinn: Right, because you’ve done that to yourself before.
Jonathan Siegrist: I’ve totally done that to myself and it ruins you. That’s what I wrote on Instagram on my post about sending the route. One of the hardest parts when you’re climbing truly near your limit is to balance this extreme desire for something but also have the ability to set some distance between you and it and not grasp it so much so that you allow yourself the opportunity to be relaxed and to climb your best. That is really hard to do and I think that applies to so many things in life, too, not just climbing.
I’m really happy with the way it turned out. There were definitely a handful of times tying in that I was very nervous because I felt as though I could do the route any moment, but I’ve been climbing a long time and I’ve tried my best to develop skills and tools to help me work through situations like that. I’m just really grateful that it all worked out.
I think I told you guys as we were walking down that day, “I really try and bank moments like this because I know at this point in my climbing that it may seem from the outside like I’m always succeeding, but I’m not. I’m failing a lot. There are many times when I leave things undone and I need to really remember and enjoy these moments and feel grateful because there will be a moment when I don’t succeed and it comes to the very last day and I feel all of the stress and I end up going home empty-handed.” That’s just part of the game.
I think the longer and the longer that you climb, especially the longer you try near your limit, the more you realize that we try our best to make moments like this happen frequently but that’s not always the way it goes. When they do happen you have to be like, ‘Oh wow. This is actually really special. Everything really did work out this time.’ I’m sure in six months or a year or two years I’ll be in the exact same situation with all of the same emotions and it won’t work out.
Neely Quinn: Yeah, you did say that and it was notable for both Seth and me, because we were both up there when you sent, that you got to the top of your climb, you screamed several times, and then you just sat there for a while and just really soaked it in. I don’t see that that often. We were like, ‘Does he want to come down yet?’ and you were still thanking the baby Jesus. [laughs]
Jonathan Siegrist: Yeah, just having a moment with the Planta up there. You have to enjoy it because it’s too easy – even people at the crag, moments after congratulating me, everyone over the next few days was like, ‘Oh my god, congratulations! What’s next?’ We have a tendency to do that in climbing. It’s not as though I wasn’t already thinking about what I wanted to do next but you can’t just let it pass so quickly. Who knows how many more times in my life I’ll climb 9b? I mean, I don’t know that it will be that many so that’s kind of an important day to just have and to try and just cement that feeling as much as you can and allow yourself the capability to draw on that later in life when you need it.
I know there’s going to be a time, like I said, eight months from now or however many years from now it is or next week – there will be a moment where I’m really down and nothing is working out and I hate myself because of it and then I can go, ‘Oh, there was that one time when everything worked out so well and I remember what it feels like. Okay, that’s pretty cool.’ I made that experience happen and that was totally my thing because no one gifted me that success. You can draw on that and be like, ‘Okay, this might not work out but at least I know one thing.
Neely Quinn: Totally.
Jonathan Siegrist: So now, what about you? Did you have any expectations for this trip or coming into it? I know you’ve traveled to Spain to climb once before with Paige Claassen. Just one time?
Neely Quinn: Yeah.
Jonathan Siegrist: And you went to Rodellar?
Neely Quinn: Yeah.
Jonathan Siegrist: Then I wrote you guys and was like, ‘Dude. I want to hang with good friends and try to go to Andalucia for a month. Are you guys in?’ Much to my surprise you were like, ‘Yeah, we are, actually. Hold on, let me check with Seth. Seth? Okay yeah, no, we’re going.’ And the rest is history.
Neely Quinn: [laughs] We had no plans of traveling internationally this whole year at all.
Jonathan Siegrist: Well, you did it very gracefully. You guys were both here working a little bit and climbing like hell so yeah. What did you expect? I know you probably didn’t expect or know too much about this region, or maybe you did…
Neely Quinn: No, and there’s so little information about this area online, as you know. As far as expectations for the trip I expected that we would laugh a lot.
Jonathan Siegrist: Nice.
Neely Quinn: Like, I knew that that would happen and I knew sort of what the food was going to be like. I expected that it would be difficult with the language but that it would be really cool to keep learning Spanish. As far as the climbing went, I expected that it would be really hard. There’s a topo and obviously almost everything is 8a or above so I knew this was going to be difficult for me and that I was going to have to try really hard.
My goal was to do something with a 1 and a 3 in it, so I wanted to do something like a 5.13-something and I hoped that I would just taste a few climbs and see what I wanted to do. That’s not exactly what happened but those were my expectations.
Jonathan Siegrist: Cool. How did, while we’re on the topic, arriving here and going to the cliff for the first time – I mean, the Chilam cave is pretty frickin’ impressive. Do you remember how you felt when you first walked up there when you first saw it?
Neely Quinn: Well, probably the same way that you did even though you walk up to caves like that all the time and I have, too. You’re just like, ‘Wow. I’m really small. I’m a really small part of this world and this cave is so gorgeous. So colorful and wavy and drippy with tufas.’ It’s definitely a pleasure to be up there and it’s also really daunting. It’s super daunting. For me to look up and see this super overhanging rock, which isn’t the greatest style of mine, and know that the bolts are really far apart in some places and see these rope draws that they have everywhere. [laughs]
Jonathan Siegrist: [laughs] Everywhere.
Neely Quinn: They’re these tattered sort of used draws. It’s different from the States so it’s definitely daunting but also really awesome, like awesome in the literal sense of the word.
Jonathan Siegrist: So did you prepare for this trip physically or mentally or emotionally at all?
Neely Quinn: Yeah. I’ve been training a lot and trying to get my body weight down to where I want it to be for the past four months. Since January first, basically. I asked Bechtel for some help – thank you, Steve.
Jonathan Siegrist: Steve is the best.
Neely Quinn: And you and I talked a lot about training over the last few months. I trained a ton in that I was bouldering, I was hangboarding, I was doing routes, I was trying things that were too hard for me, I was doing a ton of core work…
Jonathan Siegrist: You were sending, too.
Neely Quinn: Well, I sent one thing outside. That’s the other thing. I haven’t climbed outside very much at all because it’s freezing in Colorado but anyway, yeah, I’ve been preparing a lot.
Jonathan Siegrist: I mean, from my perspective, both for you and for Seth, you guys had a bit of a lull in your climbing as far as performance is concerned just due to surgeries and injury and a myriad of things going on as well, personally and all those things. You guys are both climbing if not at your level from before, very near it. That’s been super cool to see. I mean, five years ago when we all lived together in Las Vegas and we were all climbing together and kind of trying our hardest together and stuff it was really fun to all share that experience together. In some ways, I feel like this trip is the first time that we’ve really shared that again since then.
Neely Quinn: Yeah, for sure.
Jonathan Siegrist: It’s just cool because you guys went through a lot and it’s frickin’ five years later. That’s pretty crazy. It’s been five years.
Neely Quinn: It’s been a long time.
Jonathan Siegrist: But it’s been awesome to see. It’s really cool.
Neely Quinn: It’s been really cool to see Seth climb 5.14 again.
Jonathan Siegrist: I know. I’m really psyched for Seth, definitely. I know that most people on the podcast don’t know who Seth is but he’s your husband and he’s a good friend of mine and he’s just an awesome, passionate climber with a great, hilarious attitude at times. [laughs] It was really cool to see him succeed here because I don’t think he’s climbed 5.14 for five years and he’s gone through multiple surgeries.
Neely Quinn: Yeah, we’ve both had both of our shoulders done in the past five years.
Jonathan Siegrist: Yeah, so that’s pretty awesome.
Neely Quinn: It was. It was pretty cool.
Okay, so next question is how did you prepare for this trip mentally and physically?
Jonathan Siegrist: So like I mentioned before, I started kind of preparing for Planta de Shiva loosely in January, meaning I hadn’t booked tickets or anything but I thought about coming here to try this route and I started to gather a bit of information.
I actually reached out to Angy Eiter and I also reached out to Jakob Schubert. Adam Ondra did the route first in 2011. At the time it was his hardest route. He’s obviously come a long way since then and done a spectacular amount of hard climbing since then. Then Jakob Schubert did it in I think 2016 and Angy did it in 2017. I tried to get as much info from all those guys that I could on the character of the route and what to know for how to train and stuff like that.
Then I think a big part of what I did preparing was mental because I really wanted to have success in the States on some local projects before I came here. For me, in the past, that’s been incredibly important to have some success, maybe at a slightly lower level, leading into a big project because a) it gives you confidence that you’re climbing at a certain level or something. For me, I climbed Joe Kinder’s awesome route at the Hurricave that’s called Life of Villains. That was one of the things that I really wanted to do.
Neely Quinn: And how hard was that?
Jonathan Siegrist: That was 14d. I also did a first ascent that I’ve been thinking about for a couple of years that I called All You Can Eat which is 15a at Mount Potosi. Those routes, the actual, physical climbing on them, was helpful for me but I also just think in general that idea of having confidence and knowing that I can achieve a certain grade or a certain difficulty of route. Then furthermore, I think what’s almost equally important is to have some kind of success in your pocket so that when you come on a big trip like this the idea of failure is a little bit more digestible. Like, if I come home empty-handed at least I came here feeling confident. Then I can leave hating myself or not as psyched but it just gives me a higher platform to feel vulnerable from, I guess. I think it also gives you a little more ease of mind.
I’ve gone into big trips before where I had really struggled for months leading up to the trip and then it makes me feel like I have more pressure on myself because I’m like, ‘Well I haven’t done anything for months,’ or ‘I’ve failed at the last three big projects I’ve had and now I’m failing at this one.’ Those kinds of conversations in your head aren’t great to have, ideally, if you can avoid to have them. Even something that is way under your level, way under your limit, just having something like that coming into a trip is really important so I tried to build that as well.
As far as training is concerned, I did a lot of finger training, hangboarding, and quite a bit of Moon Boarding and campus-type training like power stuff and stuff like that. Pretty much the same thing that I always do, generally, because my stamina has always been my strength and when I train I have to focus quite a bit more on just strength and power, really simple strength and power exercises.
Neely Quinn: Well, I thought that your training for this was actually really interesting because you said that basically you would go to the cliff every other day and train on something that wasn’t fingery, right?
Jonathan Siegrist: No, it was muscle-y. Towards the end, like for the last several weeks before I came, which is also a way that I found success – so I keep incredibly detailed notes about all of my training and then also the trips after the training in regards to the success or the way I felt or the way I may have under-trained or over-trained or whatever. I had these detailed notes about my trip to Oliana in 2017. I went and I did Pachamama, a route I had tried for over a month and failed a few months before that trip in the winter of 2016. I did Pachamama and I also did Joe Mama and Chaxi, all within three weeks.
Neely Quinn: Which were all…
Jonathan Siegrist: Three 15a’s. I just felt a certain way, like a resistance way, and the strength in my fingers that I was really, really happy about. After looking at and talking to people about Planta de Shiva I felt like if I just modeled my training after what I did then, I think I’ll have success or I’ll have a good shot at least.
Neely Quinn: Because they’re similar?
Jonathan Siegrist: Because they’re somewhat similar and because I just had the sense that being able to do those three routes. Pachamama is still one of the hardest routes I’ve ever done. Being around that level and then having five weeks to focus my energy on one route instead of jumping around between three or four or five or whatever I did on that trip, I just felt that generally speaking, that could put me in a good place.
What I had done then and what I also did this time was I did a lot more outside climbing than I normally would. How I would normally do it is I would go to the cliff, have a couple of hard tries on a hard project of mine. It wouldn’t even have to be something incredibly hard, like not at my limit. Something 5.14. Have a couple of tries on that and then I would go down and train fingers, like do an hour long fingerboard session.
Neely Quinn: Doing repeaters or max hangs?
Jonathan Siegrist: Repeaters. In this case it worked really well because I was climbing at Potosi which is not much finger strength involved. Holds are generally quite good, moves are hard.
Neely Quinn: And it’s overhanging.
Jonathan Siegrist: It’s steep as hell and it’s really muscle-y climbing. Then I’d come down from that. That was my warm-up if you will and I’d come down from that and hangboard for an hour and just do fingers. I wouldn’t do any weights or core or anything afterwards because I didn’t want to totally blast myself. I just wanted to make sure that I was getting all of the things required from the climbing aspect and just hammering my fingers.
Neely Quinn: Can you describe this route, Planta, a little bit?
Jonathan Siegrist: Yeah, so Planta de Shiva starts with a really steep and powerful thuggy 14b that’s maybe 80 feet long or so. You get to a crappy rest point and after that you have another 80 feet of nowhere-to-hide small holds. Not necessarily difficult moves. I don’t think there’s any move that’s honestly harder than V7/V8 but a lot of them and at the same time there’s probably nothing easier than V5, like for 80 feet. There is no rest and it’s nauseatingly pumpy and resistant and mentally really taxing because the holds are small and the feet are small and everything is precise for so long.
I couldn’t have known the details about the route that I do now before I came but what I could know, in talking to Jakob and talking to Angy and hearing what Adam said about his send and stuff, is this thing is pumpy as hell, finger strength is important, but I also can’t totally give up on body strength and being able to move my body. It’s not purely a finger route. It definitely has powerful and big moves on it too, especially at the bottom.
Neely Quinn: Yeah, so both of those things combined, climbing outside and doing fingers on a hangboard. That really helped prepare you?
Jonathan Siegrist: Yeah, like I said before, I honestly feel like this is the best I’ve prepared for a route or some of the best I’ve ever prepared for a route. I’m really proud of the way that I prepared for Jumbo Love last year, too, because that route is so outside of my wheelhouse. This route is kind of more like what I’m good at. It’s long, it’s stamina climbing, and the holds are bad. Those are really kind of my three things. Jumbo Love, on the other hand, is bouldery, the holds are good, the moves are really hard, so it’s a bit different. Both seasons, last season and this season, I’m just really proud because it’s hard to nail it. I feel like at least for sport climbing and at least for these types of challenges I have a pretty good understanding of what I can and can’t do and how I can best prepare myself, which is as much as I could ask for in an athlete. I only wish I knew all this when I was 21 instead of 33 [laughs] but I’ll keep using it as much as I can.
Neely Quinn: Just to clarify, did you do that every other day?
Jonathan Siegrist: Yes, I did it every other day and sometimes even less than that. I did have a lot of rest between these days because they were quite physically challenging. I had to hike to the crag, try hard on my project a few times, hike back down. It was hard because they would be 12-hour days because the crag I went to had a drive and all of this stuff. Just like any athlete there were many of those days where I was like, ‘I could just do another burn up here and then just go home,’ instead of having to go and clip weights to my chest and hang off this thing. That’s not fun but sometimes you’ve got to just do it.
Neely Quinn: And you did it.
Okay, next question is: what are some unexpected things that came up during this trip?
Jonathan Siegrist: I think the most unexpected thing that came up during this trip was how quickly it got hot. I did the best I could to try to understand the seasons of this place and most people told me that May was one of the best months. I arrived on, I think, the 11th of April. I think that was my first day or something of climbing. The 11th or 12th or something like that.
In the beginning it was cold but the conditions were pretty good and then it went from cold to hot in a matter of a week. Then I started looking at the forecast. We have 80s forecast now for tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, which I’m just so grateful that I got the thing done because that would be unmanageable. The holds are just too bad.
That was unexpected and that added a little more stress than I would have thought, then there were tons of things that were unexpected just because I’d never been to this region and never been to the cave. Generally, everything exceeded my expectations. The cave is bigger and better, the rock quality is better than I thought, the hang here is great.
Neely Quinn: Yeah, the rock quality in the videos didn’t look very good.
Jonathan Siegrist: It didn’t look that great. I have to say it’s got to be one of the best caves of rock quality that I’ve ever climbed on in my life. It’s spectacular. Floor to ceiling. The entire wall from where you step onto the wall to where you’re clipping chains is just bullet so it’s pretty cool.
That’s the thing that comes up immediately in terms of unexpected.
Neely Quinn: Just the weather?
Jonathan Siegrist: Yeah, just the weather. It’s always so freakin’ hard to deal with. There were a couple of days where we went up there and I was like, ‘It’s too hot. I’m not going to even try.’ That’s tough when you’re only two and a half weeks into a trip. You’re like, ‘It’s only going to get hotter. No!’ We made it work.
You know how it is. You go on a trip and you have a project and all of a sudden, everyone is a junior meteorologist. We all have 40 apps open, I’m checking the weather twice an hour. “Dude! Oh my god, Seth. Did you see? The wind prediction for 4PM changed. I think it’s going to be NNW instead of NNNWWW.”
Neely Quinn: [laughs] Right? And you’ve got your little barometer thing up there.
Jonathan Siegrist: Oh yeah, always.
Neely Quinn: To answer that question myself, this is where we differ greatly.
Jonathan Siegrist: Yes, that’s a great point.
Neely Quinn: When I got here I was like, ‘Oh my god, I’m frickin’ freezing.’ I’d have two pairs of pants on, six jackets, a hat…
Jonathan Siegrist: She’s not exaggerating, just for the record. She’s saying, “Two pairs of pants, six jackets,” but that’s actually real. That’s a real thing. You must have five layers for your top and two pairs of pants, definitely.
Neely Quinn: Yeah, there were five layers some days, two pants, I would wear my knee pads just for warmth. [laughs]
Jonathan Siegrist: Or just because exposing your leg would be way too risky.
Neely Quinn: I’d strap knee pads onto my tights and then I would go up climbs with my puffy on and undress two bolts up. That was pretty hard for me. That’s how it was in Norway, too. I was just cold all the time. Not that I was trying to perform there, but for me temps just got good this last week. I was like, ‘Okay, now I can relax because I don’t feel shaky and I’m not freezing cold all the time.’ I don’t know. Every climber is very different in that way so that was one of the unexpected things for me.
Jonathan Siegrist: Anything else you felt was just unexpected for you? Or that came up during the trip that maybe made things more challenging for you than you expected or anything like that?
Neely Quinn: Yeah, my style of climbing is I’m not a great boulderer and my power endurance isn’t super great. The options for routes for me were pretty limited and I wasn’t expecting to have to do a super boulder-y, super power endurance-y 8a/8a+ as my project. I wasn’t particularly prepared for that.
Jonathan Siegrist: Right. Ok.
Neely Quinn: I was expecting hopefully to get on the 7c+, the 13a, at the cliff but it was really really busy all of the time. That was the other thing I guess that’s unexpected is that so many of the routes share beginnings and ends so you have to wait in line a lot here.
Jonathan Siegrist: Yeah, it’s true.
Neely Quinn: That was a little bit hard.
Okay, next question. How do you choose a project or decide how to spend your time on a trip like this?
Jonathan Siegrist: Well, I’d actually like to ask you that question first because I came here with a clear – I mean I knew what route I wanted to try months before I ever even booked my ticket. For you, how did you – because in the beginning of the trip you kind of played around a bit on a few different routes. You did this incredible 12d that’s for sure one of the best 12d’s in the universe. You did that one first and then you kind of started shopping. Like you said, there weren’t a ton of options but there were probably five or six different things to choose from. A couple of them looked kind of turdy but a couple of them were mega-classics like the one you eventually chose.
Were you weighing the pros and cons at all of playing on 5.12s the whole time versus trying something hard? And generally, on a trip, how do you manage that? How do you manage your time?
Neely Quinn: Well sometimes I have a project picked out, too.
Jonathan Siegrist: Cool.
Neely Quinn: For sure. When we went to Ten Sleep I knew what I wanted to do and on other trips there have been routes I wanted to do. Here, it was hard. For you with Planta de Shiva there were videos of it and you had talked to other people. For me it was like, ‘Well, I could cold email some Spaniards and try to talk to them in Spanish about these routes.’ I had one friend who had done the 7c+ here and that was it so I had no idea.
The question is: how do I figure it out? For me, it was what was going to be close to everybody because I’m not going to via ferrata out to the 8a that’s only 200-meters away but it’s an epic journey to get there. [laughs] And, I want to hang out with my homies. This 8a that I tried was really close to you guys, it wasn’t too long, and so I guess it was just, ‘What’s available? What looks cool?’ I love climbing on tufas and it had this super cool tufa fin on it. Really amazing. And: ‘What am I not so afraid of that I’m willing to do it?’ because for me, fear is a major component in climbing.
Jonathan Siegrist: It’s interesting to hear you say that because I feel like the route that you ended up choosing was actually kind of one of the most runout routes at the whole cliff.
Neely Quinn: What? Why didn’t you show me others?
Jonathan Siegrist: I think this one was just – yeah, the first half of the route only has three or four bolts or something like that and they’re kinda…
I know that it took you awhile. Like, fear is something that you have to manage when you’re climbing and I think a lot of people share that in common with you.
Neely Quinn: Everybody except for you. [laughs]
Jonathan Siegrist: [laughs] I don’t know that that’s entirely true but I remember, unfortunately, kind of close to the end of the trip you were trying your route, you were doing well on it, but there was a part down low that wasn’t particularly difficult but there was a tufa and the fall could have been weird and it kind of freaked you out, which I understand. It kind of took you awhile but you ended up putting a super long draw there so that you could clip from below and not have any issues with fear there. Do you think you didn’t imagine that as a possibility? I know you mentioned that you felt like you could feel embarrassed for doing something like that. What ended up changing your mind in order to do something like that which in the end was a really great thing for you?
Neely Quinn: I started trying the route. You get to the second bolt and then I have to do sort of a move way above my bolt to the left and if I fell I felt like I was going to crash into a tufa. My worst fear was that the rope was going to break. I have all these irrational fears so I wasn’t exactly telling you guys exactly how scared I was. Also, I want to be normal. I want to be a brave person so I didn’t want to put this gigantic sling on it because it’s shameful for me, for sure. Then I would just not climb on it because I was too scared of it. It was just mentally I was exhausted and I could only give it so many tries. I could only psych myself up to go up so many times in a two-day period.
Then, when you said to me – because I was like, ‘I’m too scared. I’m just not doing this’ – “What is it going to take for you to not be scared of this?” When you encouraged me to do it I was like, ‘Okay. He doesn’t think this is totally unreasonable so I’m just going to do this.’ I don’t know. You just want to be normal.
Jonathan Siegrist: Totally.
Neely Quinn: Once the sling was on you saw I climbed way more confidently, I wasn’t as shaky climbing because I wasn’t terrified. I was able to just focus on the climbing and I guess the next question or one of our other questions is: What would you do differently during this trip? It would be definitely that. Putting the sling on the first day that I got on it. I will do that in the future, going forward. If something is scary and if I can fix it there’s no reason for me not to fix it.
Jonathan Siegrist: Totally. I’m really happy that you did that and that it made a difference for you. I think I can speak on behalf of basically every one of my peers when I say that if someone is trying hard or something is challenging for them and it’s mentally challenging, like scary or whatever, I’ve never heard anyone pass judgement on someone else because they’re legitimately scared and want a long sling on something or whatever, you know? I think that sometimes it can seem like – I’m not going to tell you that you wouldn’t feel embarrassed. That’s your emotion, it’s not mine – but what I guess I’m trying to say and the reason I suggested that is because I just want to see you have a good shot at the route. I don’t give a shit if there’s a six-foot draw hanging there. [laughs] It wasn’t that big, just for the record, it was only like three and a half feet but still.
I was even going to suggest for listeners that if they’re freaked out by something like that, dude – have long, giant danglers on every bolt for your next project. If you feel comfortable there then maybe next time do 9 out of 10 bolts with a long dangler if you even want to improve. If you don’t want to improve at that and you’d just rather focus on your climbing then do what it takes to have your best time and to encourage your best performance. That’s my two cents. We don’t all have to be on the edge of our seat all the time when we’re climbing and if that’s going to make your time less fun or make your opportunity to send lower or remove it then dude, who cares? Just do the thing.
Neely Quinn: That’s really good to hear from you. I’m sure it’s helpful for others, too.
Jonathan Siegrist: And I know you well enough and I know your climbing well enough to know that that part of the route especially is not hard for you. Why make it more difficult than it needs to be? If having a long sling there is the way forward then…
Neely Quinn: Yeah. It also took me a couple attempts on the route to be like, ‘Okay, I’m bringing a stick clip up now.’ [laughs] I just stick-clipped up to the top of the route because it was airy and there were weird knee bars where you’re sideways and it was just kind of scary. I had to suck it up and ask for the stick clip and do weird shit up there with the stick clip.
Jonathan Siegrist: Dude, that’s totally fine. I think with certain things like that – with stick clipping, with long draws, with trying to eradicate some of the fear emotion or some of the danger of a route – anyone can set their own parameters for what it means to be bold. I’ve heard Adam Ondra in interviews say he’ll never stick clip beyond the second bolt or something like that. If that’s a self-prescribed thing then all power to you, whoever it is. If you’re like, ‘I’m never doing a trad route unless it’s ground up. I’m never going to wear a helmet.’ Whatever. You can make whatever stupid rule you want as long as it’s hopefully not affecting or putting anyone I know in danger, you know? Genuinely I think don’t let others make the rules for you. Don’t feel like because you’re in a crowd of people that wouldn’t do that that, you can’t do that.
Neely Quinn: Yeah, it did make me feel better when one of the 14c climbers across the way was climbing up his route with a stick clip clipped to him.
Jonathan Siegrist: Exactly. The same that when you started trying that route, the clip at the crux was a long sling and then there was a shorter draw there already. It’s just that sometimes maybe the equipper didn’t make it happen right and left one bolt out. I’ve certainly done that before and I have routes at the Fins that people kind of hate because they’re super spread out. When somebody puts a long draw on especially this one that I’m thinking of because it’s close to the ground – it’s called Fallout – I’m never like, ‘You suck!’ I’m like, ‘Damn. I should probably add another bolt there.’ I like being bold, personally, but like I’m saying I might have certain rules or ideologies that I might like to go by for my own climbing but I don’t necessarily expect everyone else has to do that.
Neely Quinn: Yeah, and this is in contrast to you. I’ll give an example for people of your style of climbing. When you were getting one move higher and one move higher and then you were kind of getting stuck in this one spot on your route you were like, ‘I think if I save the energy by not clipping I can do the next moves more easily.’ You just took out a clip and climbed through it, took a gigantic fall, and I was like, ‘How did it feel to skip the clip?’ You were like, ‘Oh, it was amazing.’ [laughs] I was like, ‘Oh my god that’s nuts.’ I’ve skipped one clip in my entire life, you know? It’s just totally different. It’s not even a thing for you. You asked me, “What are you afraid of? Are you afraid of getting hurt?” and I said, “No.” In your mind I knew you were like, ‘Then what the fuck is she afraid of?’ [laughs] I don’t even know what it is. I think that that, for you, is such an asset and I think it makes you such a better climber that you just don’t even have that issue to worry about.
Jonathan Siegrist: You know, to be totally honest I’ve taught a million clinics and stuff and even if the clinic is How to Tie Knots or whatever, invariably somebody in every clinic is like, ‘I have an issue with fear. Do you have any recommendations?’ I wish I had more. I’m not trying to speak so highly of myself or whatever but I think it’s something that a lot of climbers can legitimately deal with and I wish that there was an easier answer but I honestly don’t really know exactly what it is, too.
In your case with this route it was easy: put a long draw. You’re not afraid anymore. You can fucking have a better try but sometimes that’s not a possibility. In those cases I’m just kind of like, ‘I don’t know.’ I think the only answer I have is that if you’re just so hardheaded and you’re just trying with every ounce in your soul then you won’t have enough time to think about anything being scary and suddenly you’ll just be airborne. [laughs] That’s the only advice I can give in that way. Some people are better at it than others and are better at giving suggestions and mitigating fear.
Neely Quinn: Let’s talk a little bit more about trying with everything in your soul because I was lucky enough to watch you send your route and it was amazing. I don’t say that lightly. I don’t witness what I witnessed very often. When I saw you climb that climb you were a muerte, terminal for a long time on the route, and you just kept going. Screaming, literally bleeding out of your finger. At one point he stopped, blew off his finger and then grabbed the next hold. Tell me about that experience when you actually sent.
Jonathan Siegrist: It’s definitely an experience that I will never forget. I’ve been trying over the last few days, because I think it’s been four or five days now since I sent, to really concrete the emotion of trying the route in my head because I don’t want to forget it because it’s pretty special to me. Like I said before, the route is really resistant and consistent. There’s basically no resting and the route kind of gets easier after the hardest part, like each bolt gets easier than the last. The style of climbing changes just slightly enough that you can be ballistically pumped for crimping but all of a sudden it’s pinches and you can all of a sudden keep going for more moves.
I had also practiced the route a lot so I was prepared. I had practiced the route when I was tired and I practiced the route from low points and all of these other things so I was prepared for a moment, an opportunity that I might have to do it.
I don’t really know what to say about the experience itself. It definitely felt, to me – I’ve always said this and people are always kind of mad at me when I say stuff like this but I’ve never felt like I have any kind of supernatural inherent climbing ability. I work really hard physically to improve by training and things like this, but one thing that I definitely have that a lot of people don’t have is just tenacity. I’m hardheaded and I’ll try over and over and over again and I’ll prepare for months if that’s what it takes. I’m happy to sacrifice any other parts of my life that is required and I think that in the moment that I climbed Planta de Shiva, I think it was just kind of an expression of that. I just wasn’t going to let go.
As you said, I got to this awful rest that actually broke after Jakob did it so Angy did it in the same condition I did but Adam and Jakob did it with an extra hold for resting. Now there’s this horrendous rest. It’s only a rest because every other hold is complete garbage and these two holds are just bad instead of being garbage. You can rest there honestly for maybe 20 seconds but it’s not an actual rest. I’d never made it to this rest before and from that rest to the finish is probably 13d or 14a or something like that. I’d never made it to this rest before and when I got there on this try I looked down at my hand, like you said, and I was bleeding out of my middle finger quite a bit. I hadn’t had any splits or anything up until this point. I just kind of knew. I felt completely empty, void of anymore capability to go on, but I could see that my finger split was bad enough that I knew I probably couldn’t climb this route with tape on my finger and I only had a couple weeks left and it was getting hotter. I just was in a position where I felt like this was my opportunity. It doesn’t always work but a lot of times it just works to tell myself that this is it and I can’t fall. I tried like hell to the bitter end.
I visualized a lot before trying the route and at the end of the route, like I described before, there’s this plant, right? It has these plants growing out of the cliff and you grab the plant because there’s no other hold there and everyone has grabbed the plant. It’s not like cheating or anything. You’re at the end of the route anyways. When I visualized the route, leading up to the day that I sent, I was thinking and visualizing victory and grabbing the plant and being like, ‘Yeah!’ But in the actual moment I was so ballistically pumped that I could barely even hold onto the plant at this point. I tried to adlib some method to wrap my legs around the plant or something for a moment, a brief second, and then I realized that wasn’t going to happen and had to carry on to the anchor.
I don’t know. I think just in general about the actual send, when I spoke to you guys afterward I kept talking about how I couldn’t believe that I actually sent. Moments like that, and I’ve had a number of them in my life, like the one that comes to mind is the day that I did the Dunn/Westbay Direct on the Diamond with my dad. I wrote about that a little bit on the Arc’teryx blog. That was a similar experience where it’s almost as though I felt like there was no pressure. It’s not like I feel like I have everything to lose, it’s more that I can’t fucking believe that this is possible. You know what I mean? That’s the message I keep telling myself and I don’t know. You just keep going. I don’t know how to describe it but it’s really special.
I wrote the same thing about doing the Dunn/Westbay Direct and that is that it’s cool when somebody can go and just take a dump on these things and make it look easy and do it fast or whatever, or do it and make it look awesome and easy, but sends like this are so much cooler in my mind to experience and to witness but also to do yourself. To have that moment where you’re like, ‘I was on the absolute verge, as close to failure yet still succeeding as possible.’ There’s some kind of weird sense of control when you’re there. I don’t know how to totally describe it but there’s an emotion where you can’t believe that you’re doing move after move, you just kind of forget about expectations or pressure or anything like that. You’re just like, ‘I’m doing it! I’m doing another move! I’m doing another move!’ Then there’s that second voice in your head that’s like, ‘There’s no fucking way that you’re going to do another move,’ and you’re like, ‘I just did another move.’ That left and right, back and forth just happening over and over and over again, having that exist in your head for 10 minutes or 15 minutes or one minute is pretty cool.
Neely Quinn: It was really funny how you described the communication between your brain and your body afterwards while you were up there. You were like, ‘This is the part where I really wanted my brain to be like: Yeah, you can do this, dude! You can do this!’ And your brain was like, ‘Wahmmmp.’ [laughs]
Jonathan Siegrist: My brain was completely turned off. It was like one of those messages you get when you turn on a 1950’s TV and there’s no TV and it’s just like, ‘Ehrrrrrrrr.’ That’s essentially the message that my brain had and my body was just fully taking over at that point I think.
Neely Quinn: Yeah. I think that that’s a hard place for a lot of people to get to. It was really cool to watch.
Jonathan Siegrist: And I guess that’s what I’m trying to say. I do think if I have a strength it’s having moments like that and just being able to freely, truly – I don’t care if it’s embarassing and people are like, ‘Oh, wow. You were so desparate.’ I’m like, ‘I’m getting to the fucking top right now.’ You know? I’m trying as hard as I possibly can and I don’t care if I fall weird or if I look weird or if I look like I’m so desparate or anything. I’m just going to the top. I know a lot of climbers who I feel like almost cut themselves short because they don’t want to breathe heavy or they don’t want to look silly or they want to execute it perfectly every time. I’ve just never had that. I just want to send and I don’t care how.
Neely Quinn: Why? What’s the emotion you had at the top?
Jonathan Siegrist: How do you mean?
Neely Quinn: Like, why do you want to send so bad? Why do you do this?
Jonathan Siegrist: I think it’s because I almost get motivated at times like that because I have something to prove to myself. I could so easily be failing and every piece of my body really wants me to let go. I mean, everyone has had that feeling. You feel that way even on 5.11 or 5.9 sometimes where we’re like, ‘God, I just want to let go. This sucks,’ you know? I think that that gives me extra strength because I’ve never wanted to let go so bad as right now but I’m not going to let go. That kind of thing.
Neely Quinn: Just to prove to yourself that you can keep going?
Jonathan Siegrist: Yeah, and something that I talk to you a lot about is it’s not even just proving it to myself in the moment, it’s that I feel a certain sense of responsibility to the previous me and the future me. The previous me that put in all the hours and the working hard to train to get to where I am, the previous me that dreamed this big and wanted this so bad and then sacrificed the plans or whatever else it is to get to where I am now. I don’t just mean over the last three months. I mean over the last 15 years. I want to make that person proud.
I also want to make the future me proud because it’s easy in the moment to be like, ‘I had a good try. I don’t have to try that hard. Even if I let go this is my best try,’ or whatever. Those thoughts go through my head, too, but then I think about what’s the person two months from now going to say about that? How am I going to feel when I get down? ‘God that was a good try but I did just kind of give up?’ You know what what I mean?
Neely Quinn: That’s interesting. You’re completely holding yourself accountable from both ends of your life.
Jonathan Siegrist: Totally, and I look back now at that moment and I’m incredibly proud, like I did something right. I’ve had both experiences where I’ve looked back at something and I don’t know if I gave it everything but I’ve also had moments where I was like, ‘Holy crap. Could I ever do that again? That was insane!’
Neely Quinn: Wow, me!
Jonathan Siegrist: Exactly, and that’s cool. That helps you move forward and do other cool things in life, I think.
Neely Quinn: Yeah, and for our last contrast, I gave up on my project. [laughs]
Jonathan Siegrist: [laughs] Which I’ve also done. I’ve totally done the same but I’d like to hear your experience with that because you were basically – I don’t know if you officially one-hanged but it was right there and you were having awesome tries and you had done it in overlapping sections and whatever. From my perspective it was super close and you had a couple days left and…
Neely Quinn: Well, it was yesterday and today is our last day of climbing. I think I just know myself so well, well I think I do, and my personal conditions aren’t the greatest right now in terms of my hormonal cycle and how tired I’m feeling and I feel mentally exhausted. I was up there and I had tried getting through the crux from the bottom so many times and I just can’t. I just couldn’t. I don’t see myself getting any stronger than yesterday because I’ve never done well a second day on. I just decided that I wanted to lift the pressure and just do fun things for the rest of my time and that it’s okay and that I have plenty of other projects that I can do at home.
Jonathan Siegrist: That in an of itself, in a lot of ways, is really admirable because you really wanted this thing and you allowed yourself to let go, right? That is really hard to do. I know that it’s hard for you and it’s hard for me and it’s hard for anybody. How do you talk to yourself and how do you treat yourself during a time like that? I know it’s probably not all healthy maybe to start or whatever but what…
Neely Quinn: I think there was and there is shame. That’s my main negative emotion, shame. I have to actively forgive myself for disappointing myself and everyone around me, or that’s what my perception is, and just be okay with this is where I am at, this is what I’ve chosen, and it’s okay. I feel better now than I did yesterday going into this climbing day.
No, I didn’t send anything with a 1 and a 3 in it but I did try really hard and I was out of my comfort zone pretty much every minute of every day.
Jonathan Siegrist: [laughs] That’s awesome.
Neely Quinn: So for that I’m okay. I’m okay with it.
Jonathan Siegrist: Now that some of the stress is alleviated and now that you’re thinking ahead and stuff like that, do you feel like there are any lessons you can draw from that aside from the clipping thing we talked about? Did you find any new ways or any new tools, like how to treat yourself or how to come out of something like this?
Neely Quinn: I think it’s basically just the draw, honestly, the sling. I think if I had had that I would have had so many more burns on it and would have been able to make so many better links. I just have to be okay with: I made a mistake and I won’t make it again.
Jonathan Siegrist: And I don’t even see it as a mistake. I don’t see it as you made a mistake, I just see it as there’s a new tool that you’ve discovered.
Neely Quinn: Yeah, that’s true.
Jonathan Siegrist: Don’t feel like you can’t have that in your back pocket next time or whatever.
Neely Quinn: And at the beginning when I got on that 12d, I was like, ‘I will never do this 12d.’
Jonathan Siegrist: And then you literally did it next try.
Neely Quinn: And then I did it. [laughs] I literally did it next try but also I was like, ‘I will be grateful if this is all I do this whole trip,’ because it was so scary for me, it was so weird and slopey and big moves and all the things I’m terrible at.
Jonathan Siegrist: Tufas and all these things, yeah.
Neely Quinn: And then I did it with ease. I was like, ‘Oh, yes! I accomplished something.’ I am proud of that, too, so I can take away that and then I did this cool 12c. Today I really want to do this 12c, a 12b, and try this 12d with the help of a stick clip and see if I can do them.
Jonathan Siegrist: That’d be awesome. I have one last question before we stop: outside of the climbing what has been some memorable aspects of being in Andalucia? Would you recommend this place to people? What about Villanueva de Rosario or just this area in general?
Neely Quinn: Yeah, I would for sure recommend this area to people.
Jonathan Siegrist: Just this area in general?
Neely Quinn: Yeah, I would for sure recommend this area to people who climb at least 8a.
Jonathan Siegrist: [laughs] Yeah, the cave is kind of hard but there are other cliffs around here, too. Tons of them.
Neely Quinn: This place is amazing. It’s a tiny little town. You’ve got a carniceria, a panaderia, it’s old-style living, and I loved the mejillones.
Jonathan Siegrist: The clams.
Neely Quinn: And the sardinas. The canned clams and sardines are amazing and cheap. Everything is cheap here and the people at the cliff are really passionate and really fun to speak Spanish with. They’ve been very welcoming so yeah, I would totally recommend it. I’m assuming you would say the same.
Jonathan Siegrist: I definitely would recommend it, yeah, just the region in general and just going somewhere a little off the beaten path in general I would highly recommend because it’s been awesome. We’ve been the only non-Spanish people at the crag, aside from a couple others, basically the entire time we’ve been here which is pretty unique. It’s not the same in Siurana or Oliana. There’s hardly any Spanish people at those crags. It’s mostly international climbers.
Neely Quinn: Oh wow. You got to practice your Spanish a lot.
Jonathan Siegrist: Yeah, I got marginally better at Spanish. [laughs]
Neely Quinn: And mostly they got to get better at English trying to talk to us. [laughs]
Jonathan Siegrist: [laughs] Yeah, exactly.
Neely Quinn: Anything else that you want to add?
Jonathan Siegrist: I feel like there’s more questions that I want to ask you but I also think that we’re kind of on a timeline.
Neely Quinn: Yeah, we’ve got to go climbing.
Jonathan Siegrist: I guess we do. It is your last day so that’s more important. I would just say that I’m really grateful that you were willing to chat a bit about your route and I guess I just think that from my perspective, I’ve gotten really close on routes like you did with this one before and I have left empty-handed. I think the fact that even yesterday, when you were like, ‘I’m done trying this thing,’ and we cleaned the draws off, your attitude is just so awesome and that’s amazing. You went through ups and downs like most people do but it’s really hard to wake up the next day and be really psyched and be laughing and having a good time, you know? We all really care about climbing and how we perform and I don’t think you should feel ashamed at all. I think you should feel psyched so good job.
Neely Quinn: Thanks, and you shouldn’t feel ashamed at all, either. [laughs] I’m really proud of you and it’s been a pleasure. Thanks for inviting us.
Jonathan Siegrist: Yeah. I’m so glad you guys came. It was awesome.
Neely Quinn: Well, let’s go. Let’s go do it.
Jonathan Siegrist: Bye. Bye, TrainingBeta people!
Neely Quinn: Bye!
Alright, I hope you enjoyed that interview with Jonathan Siegrist and me. Let’s see – on that trip, aside from doing his 9b, he did three 8c+’s which is 14c, one 14d, he onsighted a handful of 8a+’s and 8a’s, and basically just took down the cliff. All of the Spanish climbers were like, ‘Who is this guy? Who is this American?’ It was really cool and I hope that this interview gives you some insight into how he trains mentally and physically and just a little glimpse inside the mind of a climber that we all sort of aspire to be.
Coming up on the podcast I have one more interview from a person who just broke into 5.13 and I think that’s going to be a really good one. He was very succinct with how he describes what he did to get to 5.13.
This weekend I’m actually teaching at one of the Steve Bechtel seminars, The Performance Climbing Coach seminars, and it’s in Fort Collins, Colorado this time. I don’t think it’s too late to sign up so if you’re in the area and you want to do a weekend seminar learning all about training for climbing definitely check that out at performanceclimbingcoach.com.
I think that’s it. That’s all I’ve got for you. Thanks for listening and I’ll talk to you next week.